The definition of autism is as follows: a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts. To some, that may be an abstract concept in itself, but to others, it’s a life-changing diagnosis that holds more questions than answers.
However, when faced with a diagnosis that requires research, there is always an opportunity for advancements to be made. Usually, these advancements come from passionate families who refuse to sit in waiting. These advancements are made by people who want to learn everything about the diagnosis, and then do something about it.
This is the case with Generation Rescue, an organization started by parents of a young boy, JB, who was diagnosed with autism at a young age. Their website tells a little bit about their story.
When Lisa and JB Handley’s son was diagnosed with autism in 2004, they simply did not believe it would be Jamison’s lifelong destiny. They committed themselves to healing their son.
Lisa and JB pursued all of the theories and avenues they could find, educating themselves as fully as possible as they reached the most likely conclusion: the combination of antibiotics and vaccines administered to Jamison in his first 18 months of life had overwhelmed his system and triggered his body into a state of being that we currently call autism.
Armed with this knowledge, the Handleys began recovering their child. To their surprise, they found that parents all around the world were experiencing the same struggles—and same victories. In 2005, the Handleys decided to create a community for these amazing families. They named it Generation Rescue.
Generation Rescue’s mission statement is simple – hope for recovery. While an autism diagnosis usually makes hope a struggle, the organization aims to make it a reality. The website is full of information, from ways to help yourself or a family member affected by autism, to stories of hope and power, and even a store to show your support and help the worthy cause – there are so many ways to help with the advancement of recovery.
One of those stories of hope comes from Jenny McCarthy, who is an ambassador for Generation Rescue as she found help for herself and son, Evan, through the program.
Autism is a tricky diagnosis to navigate because of the wide spectrum of symptoms and ‘levels’ of the condition. When speaking to someone, or the family of a loved one, affected by autism, the word spectrum is used often. It’s a ‘ruler’ of sorts to describe where in the diagnosis someone falls. From low to high functioning and Aspergers to SPD – the spectrum holds it all.
In most cases, recovery from autism just means having a life that feels more like a slow and relaxing tune than a club anthem. For those on the autism spectrum, life is never quiet…it’s not calm…people with the condition feel everything either too much or they don’t feel enough. Certain sounds, sights, and tastes can trigger someone with the diagnosis and a seemingly okay day turns into one filled with outbursts.
It’s likely that you know someone on the spectrum, even if they’ve never told you about it. If you don’t know someone personally, you’ve probably seen it.
You’ve seen it in the tired mom at Target who’s son won’t calm down. In the sweet girl on the playground who doesn’t interact with other children but plays alone. You’ve seen it in the teenager with noise cancelling headphones in the mall so the sounds don’t overwhelm them, and sometimes, you’ve seen it in the boy on your child’s soccer team who just seems more excited than the other kids – without knowing the way it took 30 minutes to adjust the shin guards and socks so that they ‘felt okay’.
For these reasons, and more, Generation Rescue exists to help make it all possible. We talked to Zack Peter, the PR and Marketing agent at Generation Rescue about why the organization is so important to him, and what it does for other people.
Zack’s personal involvement to Generation Rescue comes from the diagnosis of his brother.
Since my brother’s autism diagnosis, Generation Rescue was one of the very few organizations that provided immediate treatment assistance to help families directly, like my own, take action to support their loved ones. It’s part of the reason I make giving to GR one of my main priorities. With enough support, we can really make an impact in the community.
Zack has a documentary coming out soon, Sibling Warrior, which tells the journey of his younger brother. Generation Rescue also hosts events through the year and while there are none on the calendar yet, we urge you to keep an eye open for ways you can get involved locally and nationally.
To find out more information, visit the Generation Rescue website, and if you know someone, or are the someone, affected by autism – you’ll find a lot of great information and ways to begin stepping towards recovery.